Community Post

Historic Coca Cola Bottling Plant Landmark: Update

The City’s Landmark Review Board has voted unanimously to designate the site and the exterior of the former Coca Cola bottling plant (1313 E. Columbia) a landmark, finding that it meets these two criteria of the landmarks preservation ordinance:

D. It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or of a method of construction, and
F. Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the City and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City.

Seattle University, the current owner of the building intends, in the near term, to remodel the interior of the building to provide temporary library functions while the Lemieux Library is extensively renovated/remodeled. To remodel the Coca Cola building while meeting the energy code S.U. presented to the Architectural Review Committee of the Landmarks Preservation Board a proposal to replace the building’s windows with close replicas rather than exact replicas. S.U. states that it would cost over $850,000 to restore and replace the windows to their original condition. Furthermore, the University states, such windows would not be operable and would interfere with the ability to comply with ventilation and cooling requirements of the energy code. S.U. believes it can provide new, operable windows that look very much like the originals at a cost that is several hundred thousand dollars less. The Architectural Review Committee did not reach a decision on recommending for or against the window replacement proposal and no vote was taken. The issue will be considered at a future meeting of the Landmarks Review Board.
S.U. will also ask for approval for a new paint job. The current blue and white scheme was done by the most recent owner QWest. (Apparently QWest also had, at one time, plans to alter the building, but didn’t follow through.) It seems that no one knows for sure what color the building was originally — or at least the color of the accents is not known for sure. The main part of the building was and is some shade of white. The accents may have been cream colored, although one S.U. staff person stated that red was possible. They are analyzing paint samples from the building and may know more in the future.
At the Landmarks Preservation Board meeting one of the board members opined that the scalloped design above the 14th Avenue door reminded him of the edges of a bottle cap. This gave rise to the suggestion that renovation include a giant “church key” poised above the door. Looking forward to that.
The blog owned by former Squire Park resident Jess Cliffe, has an article about the building and some good pictures.
As a footnote, in the slide show that Susan Boyle presented to the Landmarks Board to show the context for the Coca Cola bottling plant was included a number of other bottling plants of the time, including a Canada Dry plant of the same era from some other city— L.A. maybe. It looked strikingly like the former Canada Dry bottling plant on the S.U. campus at 12th and Marion — the building that now houses the bookstore and several offices. That building apparently is not on the list of possible landmarks and S.U.’s long range plans are to demolish it to allow for expansion of the law school.

0 thoughts on “Historic Coca Cola Bottling Plant Landmark: Update

  1. This seems a little like the tree falling over in the forest…

    If nobody know what color (cream, white, red??) the building used to be, is there any great virtue in trying to reproduce it?

    Seriously, they should just consult some historic photos of the area: everything was a shade of grey back then, as it was before Kodak invented color.

  2. I’ve seen “They Live”, and I know all about our Black & White world! Now I’m off to have a seven minute fistfight in an alley with Rowdy Roddy Piper…

  3. S.U. didnt pay 15.5 million to keep this building, they intend to tear it down. Thousand’s of hours of B.S. meeting’s will occur with lots of wasted time aka Sonics trial and then the building will be torn down. The building is an eyesore, the historic designation is a waste of time and political correctness is the only reason we will all go thru this process. Go ahead and delete this post and continue living in a fantasy world. Oh and have a great weekend!

  4. Yes, I tend to agree the building should and will be torn down to make way for progress. Its a simple economic equation and the sooner we all realize it the sooner something cool can happen.

  5. All truly desirable cities and neighborhoods successfully preserve some historic sites and areas. The Central Area is an older neighborhood and should be interested in preserving much of its original character as should Seattle in general. Otherwise, the city risks losing any individual identity. I was sorry to miss the meeting.

  6. Just because the building is old doesnt make it historic. Pick your battles, but dont pick this one because you’ll lose. They didnt pay 16 million for the privelage of being bossed around by the neighbors and the preservation board. They bought it for the land and thats why it wil be town down after a long expensive campaign to prove that it is a financial hardship to restore the building. Why waste a bunch of time on political correctness, call a spade a spade and tear it down – NOW!

  7. doesn’t mean it’s *not* historic either. The two aren’t mutually exclusive any more than they’re a guaranteed pair.

    I don’t see the link between “political correctness” and an effort to preserve part of the city’s past. Joanna has it right.